LifeisXbox’s Hellbreachers review | I believe that every Xbox gamer knows Ratalaika Games SL. The Spanish studio is well-known for porting and publishing dozens of easy completion games that achievement addicts love so much. Still, here’s something we don’t see every day: Ratalaika joined forces with the studio OMEGACORE to bring to Xbox Hellbreachers, a retro-styled 2D action platformer where you play as one of three heroes in a quest to hell and back! Now let’s see what this game holds behind this exciting premise.
At first glance, Hellbreachers is a colorful game with cute characters – the opposite of what I would expect from a game with this name. It looks and plays like a mobile game, but to my surprise, it is not a mobile game. But I’m getting ahead of myself here. Let’s take our time and examine each aspect of the game individually.
Raf played Hellbreachers for around 4 hours on his Xbox One X. This game is also available for Xbox Series, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Playstation 5, and Steam, where it was published in 2020.
What we liked!
- Different Characters | When you start your adventure, you must select one of three unique character classes to venture through its 50 levels: a knight, a mage, or an assassin. These classes differ in what kind of weapons and attacks they use: the knight is a melee fighter that is more effective in close combat. The mage is the weakest one but can use powerful spells from a distance. The assassin is the most agile and can attack from a distance, as well. An exciting aspect of the game is that each class has three specializations that you can change during the game (although only the first two are available from the beginning). It adds some interesting variation to your gameplay. Characters have three different attacks each (one regular and two specials that are limited). I’m afraid to say that these special attacks are the most noteworthy things you will see regarding this game’s visuals.
- Visuals | Visually speaking, the game is pleasant. The scenarios are colorful and present beautiful backgrounds. There’s a nice variation in its biomes, which helps to keep things interesting for longer. Your characters and their enemies, on the other hand, are very uninspired and generic. Only a bunch of enemies in the later levels have attention-grabbing visuals. Even the bosses miss any air of menace: they are just big and annoying – and nothing more. Your characters and enemies’ animations are elementary, almost non-existent.
- Sound | Music in Hellbreachers is pleasant. It reminded me of some games of the 16-bit era. It wouldn’t be a problem if the sound effects weren’t way too simple. It’s not a problem nor something that will spoil your gameplay. Still, It’s something that deserved some more attention and love from the developers.
- Level design | Hellbreachers is a true platformer. The first levels are very linear, but later in-game, you will need to navigate up and down in platforms, double-jumping and using stairs to find your way out of the stage. The problem is that as the gameplay is so uninteresting, this platforming grows old pretty quickly. And you get more and more frustrated jumping around when all you want is to reach the end of each level. Plus, I still don’t understand why there are so many boxes lying around when you can overcome most of the obstacles (if not all) by using your double-jump.
- Replayability | Offering three characters with different abilities would make Hellbreachers an exciting game to be replayed, at least once with each character. But as its gameplay makes it so uninteresting, I doubt you will worry about it. Ah, one thing I forgot: if you enjoy achievement hunting, you’ll probably have already gotten all of them before reaching the third biome. So, from now on, you can only hop over enemies to reach the end of the stage in no time, making your journey a little faster.
What we disliked
- Boring gameplay | My God, something went really wrong with the gameplay of Hellbreachers. First of all, let me explain what you do. You explore each biome, collecting coins and eliminating enemies that stand in your way. The gold is good for nothing, so there’s no reason to pick it after all. There are chests scattered that require a key – hidden in the same stage – to be opened. Keys found in a level can only open chests in this same level. ‘And what is inside those chests?’, you ask me. They are used to replenish your special attacks. But as you can easily avoid most of the enemies and these special attacks are restored after each stage, you will be saving them for the bosses and nothing more. I find it hard to feel motivated to fight the enemies when I can easily ignore them and rush to the end of the level. And by ‘rushing’, you better consider ‘slowly walking’: the characters are so slow when moving that the game feels like being played in slow motion. Just to make thins even better…
- Combat | Another thing that makes the game so unpleasant is the combat. Or better saying, to terrible movement, hitboxes and lack of polishment. You don’t feel your hits connecting and, if it wasn’t by your enemies falling after some hits, I couldn’t even tell if there’s any collision at all. After killing the 30th enemy required by the achievements, I stopped engaging them in combat at all. Enemies felt more like a distraction than a menace to me.
- Save system? What save system? | In my first time with Hellbreachers, I tried the adventure with the knight. After a couple of hours of gaming, it was time to sleep. Ok, tomorrow I can play some more. And so I did. But on this second day, I decided to try the mage – who is weak, and I was not fond of it at all. So, I decided to go back to my knight to finish the game. But to my surprise, my progress with the knight was entirely erased when I started the game with another character. So if you want to play this game, please finish it with your first character before trying a second to avoid losing your progress.
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With a history of gaming that goes from his old man’s Atari 2600 to his Xbox One, Rafael or RAF687, our Brazilian editor, has a love for games as old as he can remember. He has already spent countless hours in many consoles (Mega Drive/Genesis, Sega Saturn, PS1, PS2 and Xbox 360) and is always ready for more (as long as his wife is asleep). Raf has been writing for LifeisXbox since 2017, with a passion for games of almost all genres – though we know he has a special place in his heart for RPGs, racing games and anything that includes pixel art. Writing about games has always been a childhood dream to Raf, dream that he has fulfilled reviewing games for you here. You can drop him a message at Twitter, Facebook or Xbox Live at any time.